1. Wide shot of Mike Pompeo walking into State Department briefing
2. SOUNDBITE (English) Matt Lee, Associated Press State Department reporter:
"Last night, President Trump tweeted about one of your predecessors, Secretary Kerry, saying that he was having quote unquote illegal meetings with Iran's foreign minister..."
3. SOUNDBITE (English) Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State:
"So, I'll leave the legal determinations to others but what Secretary Kerry has done is unseemly and unprecedented. This is a former secretary of state engaged with the world's largest state sponsor of terror. And according to him, right, you don't have to take my word for it, these are his answers. He was he was talking them. He was telling them to wait out this administration. You can't find precedent for this in U.S. history and Secretary Kerry ought not to engage in that kind of behavior. It's inconsistent with what foreign policy of the United States is, as directed by this president, and it is beyond inappropriate for him to be engaged. I remember, I saw him. I saw him in Munich. At the security conference. He was there with, if I have my facts right because I think I saw them all with my own eyes, Secretary Moniz (former Energy Secretary Earnest Moniz) and Wendy Sherman (former Obama-era Iran deal negotiator). The troika. And I am confident that they met with their troika counterparts, although one can perhaps ask Secretary Kerry if my recollection with respect to that is accurate. I wasn't in the meeting, but I am reasonably confident that he was not there in support of U.S. policy, with respect to the the Islamic Republic of Iran, who this week fired Katyusha rockets toward the United States embassy in Baghdad and took action against our consulate in Basra."
4. UPSOUND (English) Matt Lee, Associated Press State Department reporter:
"So, has it had an impact? Has it hurt your efforts? That's the..."
5. SOUNDBITE (English) Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State:
"I think you understand what I wish it is that former secretaries of state, all of them, from either political party, ought not to be engaged in. Actively undermining U.S. policy, as a former secretary of state, is literally unheard of."
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo unloaded Friday on his Obama-era predecessor John Kerry for "actively undermining" U.S. policy on Iran by meeting several times recently with Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who was his main interlocutor in the Iran deal negotiations.
In unusually blunt and caustic language, Pompeo said Kerry's meetings with Zarif were "unseemly and unprecedented" and "beyond inappropriate."
President Donald Trump had late Thursday accused Kerry of holding "illegal meetings wiith the very hostile Iranian Regime, which can only serve to undercut our great work to the detriment of the American people."
Pompeo said he would leave "legal determinations to others" but slammed Kerry as a former secretary of state for engaging with "the world's largest state-sponsor of terror" and telling Iran to "wait out this administration." He noted that just this week Iranian-backed militias had fired rockets at U.S. diplomatic compounds in Iraq.
"You can't find precedent for this in U.S. history and Secretary Kerry ought not to engage in that kind of behavior," a visibly agitated Pompeo told reporters at the State Department. "It's inconsistent with what foreign policy of the United States is as directed by this president, and it is beyond inappropriate for him to be engaged."
He then took former Energy Secretary Earnest Moniz and ex-Iran deal negotiator Wendy Sherman to task for joining Kerry at a meeting with Zarif and other Iranian officials earlier this year at a security conference in Munich. Along with Kerry, Moniz and Sherman played key roles in negotiating the 2015 agreement between Iran and several world powers that lifted sanctions against Tehran in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear program..
"I wasn't in the meeting, but I am reasonably confident that he was not there in support of U.S. policy with respect to the the Islamic Republic of Iran," Pompeo said.
"Former secretaries of state - all of them, from either political party - ought not to be engaged in" this kind of activity, he said. "Actively undermining U.S. policy as a former secretary of state is literally unheard of."
Such meetings, between a private U.S. citizen and foreign official, are not against the law and not necessarily inappropriate or a violation of federal regulations, but Trump, Pompeo and several GOP lawmakers say they are evidence Kerry and former Obama administration officials are trying to subvert Trump's hard line on Iran.